Etherpad

Etherpad is a collaborative text editor with a number of useful features.

Security Considerations

Etherpad is not behind any sort of formal security - anyone with the pad link can edit the pad. However, a reasonable level of security can be achieved via Nextcloud’s integration.

When the pad is created through Nextcloud, the internal pad name is a long, random string of letters and numbers, which achieves the same effective security as a password. Meanwhile, the pad is represented as a custom-named file in Nextcloud, which can then be shared with other collaborators through Nextcloud’s interface. (See Etherpad).

Creating and Opening Pads

To create a new Etherpad (outside of Nextcloud), or to open an existing pad, go to pad.mousepawmedia.com. Enter the name of pad you wish to create or open, and click OK.

Deleting Pads

Pads can only be deleted by an administrator. Contact an admin, and request that the pad be deleted. Be sure to specify the pad’s name, and whether it was created through Nextcloud.

Using Etherpad

Etherpad is geared towards plain-text editing, and as such, it has a very simple interface.

Toolbar

Let’s explore the toolbar, from left to right. Most of these have keyboard shortcuts. However over a button in the interface to see the name and keyboard shortcut.

  • Bold, Italic, Underline, and Strikethrough change the selected text.
  • Ordered List starts an automatic numbered list, or converts each line of a selection into an item in a numbered list.
  • Unordered List creates a bulleted list, or converts each line of a selection into an item in a numbered list.
  • Indent and Outdent increase and decrease the indentation of the current line or selection. If part of a list, it will also adjust the bullet or numbering accordingly, for nested lists.
  • Undo and Redo can be used to undo and redo one’s own commands. It does not affect other user’s actions.
  • Clear Authorship Colours removes the authorship colors from the entire document. This change is visible to all authors. It will not shut off all future such highlighting.

Moving to the right side of the toolbar...

  • Print allows you to print the pad.
  • Import/Export from/to different file formats allows you to import or export from an Etherpad file, an HTML document, or a Plain text (.txt) file.
  • Timeslider switches to the Timeslider view, which allows you to view the complete history of changes to the pad. (See Timeslider).
  • Save Revision marks the current version as a revision in the timeslider, making it easier to find later.
  • Settings toggles the settings pane. (See Settings).
  • Share and Embed this pad displays the direct link to the pad, and the URL you can use to embed the pad. If you check Read Only, the link and embed will show a read-only version of the pad, to prevent changes. Anyone with the main name/link for the pad can still edit it.
  • Show the users on this pad show all of the users currently editing the pad. You can also set your name and color here, which you should be in habit of doing as a courtesy!

Settings

There are a number of settings you can change on the pad. These can be modified from the Settings button on the toolbar.

  • Chat always on screen switches between the collapsible chat box (“off”) or ever-present chat panel (“on”).
  • Show Chat and Users shows the chat panel and the user list at all times.
  • Authorship colours toggles the authorship highlighting. If this is on, text written by an author will be highlighted in their selected color.
  • Line numbers toggles the line numbers on the left side of the editing pane.
  • Read content from right to left? is generally only needed if you are writing in a right-to-left language.
  • Wrap lines automatically wraps extra long lines, instead of showing a horizontal scrollbar.
  • enable Autocompletion toggles the autocomplete feature. When this is on, a popup box will appear as you type, suggesting words that appear elsewhere in the document. Browse the options with the up and down arrow keys and press ENTER to make your selection.
  • Font type sets the font for yourself only. This list includes common font faces, monospace, and even OpenDyslexic.
  • Language allows you to select the language of the interface. It is “British English” by default, but you can select “English” just below that option to switch to the American variation.

Note

If you ever make a mistake and select the wrong language, just know that the Language menu is always the last item on the Settings screen.

Timeslider

The Timeslider allows you to view the complete history of the pad.

At the top of the Timeslider interface, as expected, is a slider. You can grab the black bar marker and drag it to anywhere in the slider. Alternatively, you can click anywhere on the slider to jump.

Stars mark major revisions, which are created using the Save Revision button on the editing interface.

Pressing the Play/Pause button will animate the history from the position you are at. If you’re at the end of the timeslider, it will start playback from the beginning. The Previous and Next buttons let you step between versions.

Each version shows its number, date, and authors. At the far right are three buttons:

  • Export lets you export the current version.
  • Settings lets you change settings, specifically the font.
  • Return to pad takes you back to the editing interface.